The Good Shepherd

“I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” John 10:11 (KJB)

Today, on this topic of the Good Shepherd I will share with you the thoughts said by brighter minds than my own…

From F. B. Meyer on John 10:7-18:

“He who came in by the door which John the Baptist opened has become the door. It stands open to all comers-if any man. The salvation here mentioned refers to the entire process of soul-health: go in for fellowship; go out for service.
Wherever destruction is uppermost in speech or act, you may detect the presence of the great enemy of souls. Christ is ever constructive, saving, life-giving. Let us not be content until our life has become abundant life. Our life cost the Shepherd’s life. He did not hesitate to interpose Himself between the sheep and the wolf of hell. There is possible between our Lord and ourselves an intimacy of knowledge which can be compared to nothing less than that which subsists between the Father and Himself.
Note how our Lord looked beyond the hurdles of the Jewish fold and thought tenderly of the Gentile sheep that were far away. In the revelation committed to the Apostle Paul He gave vent to His love, and through the succeeding centuries He has ever sought them. There may be many folds, but there can be only one flock. Men die because they cannot help it; Christ was born that He might die; He died because He would.” THROUGH THE BIBLE DAY BY DAY

From John Gill on John 10:11:

I am the good shepherd,…. A shepherd of his Father’s appointing, calling, and sending, to whom the care of all his sheep, or chosen ones, was committed; who was set up as a shepherd over them by him, and was entrusted with them; and who being called, undertook to feed them; and being promised, was sent unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and under the character of a shepherd, died for them, and rose again, and is accountable to his Father for everyone of them; the shepherd, the great and chief shepherd, the famous one, so often spoken and prophesied of, Gen_49:24. And discharging his office aright, he is the good shepherd; as appears in his providing good pasture, and a good fold for his sheep; in protecting them from their enemies; in healing all their diseases; in restoring their souls when strayed from him; in watching over them in the night seasons, lest any hurt them; in searching for them, when they have been driven, or scattered in the dark and cloudy day; in caring for them, so that he lose none of them; and in nothing more than in what follows,
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep: not only exposes it to danger, as David did his, for the sake of his father’s flock, but gives it away freely and voluntarily, for the sake of the sheep; in their room and stead, as a ransom for them, that they may be delivered from death, and might have eternal life: the Ethiopic version renders it, “the good shepherd gives his life for the redemption of his sheep”; so Nonnus paraphrases it, the “ransom price of his own sheep”: this belongs to Christ’s priestly office, and with the Jews priests were sometimes shepherds hence we read (q) of רועים כהנים, “shepherds that were priests”. Philo the Jew speaks (r) of God as a shepherd and king; and of his setting his word, his firstborn Son, over the holy flock, to take care of it: and a good shepherd is thus described by the (s) Jews;
“as רועה טוב, “a good shepherd”, delivers the flock from the wolf, and from the lions, (see Joh_10:12) so he that leads Israel, if he is good, delivers them from the idolatrous nations, and from judgment below and above, and leads them to the life of the world to come, or eternal life; (see Joh_10:10).”
Which description agrees with Christ, the good shepherd; and so the Lord is said to be רועה טוב, “the good shepherd”, and merciful, and there is none like him (t).” John Gill’s EXPOSITION OF THE WHOLE BIBLE

When You Ask…

“And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.

Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before Him; ‘If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull down, and I will plant you, and not pluck up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.’ ” Jeremiah 42:7-12 (KJB)

First of all when you ask do not already have your mind made up what you are going to do.

That is apparently what the remnant of those left in Judah to care for the land, and the cities. With hypocritical hearts and minds they feigned wanting the will of God, so they go to the prophet Jeremiah asking him to seek the LORD’S counsel on His will.

The above verses are God’s answer to Jeremiah for the people.  It is a message of hope and promise if they will stay in the land. It is a promise that they need not fear Babylon their captors. What they need to do is do what the LORD says, and they will be protected and greatly blessed.

When we ask God’s counsel for something do we already have our minds made up of what we are going to do?  It does not matter what God says in His word we often do what we want to do.  That is a sad commentary on the life of a Christian, and it robs us of the promise, protection, and provision of the LORD our God.

When we ask, let us ask that the will of God be done.  Let us ask for the courage, faith, and power of the Spirit of God in us to walk in His way; not our own. When God says “Stay”, let us stay.  When God says “Go” let us go.

Our rest, our hope lies only in the Son of God who is Jesus Christ, God who became flesh, and dwelt among us. He died on the cross for ours sins, was buried, and He rose again.

“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Seven Things God Hates # 6

A False Witness

Proverbs 6:16-19

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,   An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,   A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”

One false witness takes a truth and twists it to convict Jesus (Matthew 26:59-61). What makes the statement “False”? It is the accusation against One who has done no wrong. It is the attitude of the heart. It just was not true.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

There is even protection for the accused, and that protection is seen in Numbers 35:30,

“Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.”

It is repeated,

“At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” (Deuteronomy 17:6).

What makes someone a false witness? Envy, greed, unjust anger, disobedience to God, fear, hatred. Love will never cause one to be a false witness.

OUTLINE –
I. A FALSE WITNESS TWISTS WORDS TO FIT THEIR OWN AGENDA.
II. THINGS WILL FALL APART WITHOUT THE TRUTH.
III. THE TRUTH OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN THE CHILD OF GOD.
IV. FALSE WITNESSES DESTROY – THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE.

A FALSE WITNESS TWISTS WORDS TO FIT THEIR OWN AGENDA.

That was the way of the two witnesses at Jesus’s trial. They gave testimony to words Jesus did say, but they were twisted to fit the agenda of the hearts of the condemned to condemn the innocent.

The Psalmist wrote,

“Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.” (Psalm 56:5).

A man by the name of John Dryden said,

“Truth is the foundation of all knowledge and the cement of all societies.” (From BE SKILLED by Warren W. Wiersbe).

SOCIETIES WILL FALL APART WITHOUT THE TRUTH.

There is only injustice when you have an elite who make the laws to suit themselves and it enables them to take from the least fortunate. Warren Wiersbe wrote,

“Without truth, things start to fall apart; when people lie officially, the foundations of society begin to crumble.”

Jezebel, by pretense seemed as though she was going to exalt Naboth, but she had arranged for two men to bring charges of blasphemy against him. The charges were not truth. (See 1 Kings chapter 21). It is for sure that the kingdom of Ahab and Jezebel crumbled.

A “False witness” is a killer with intent to harm.

“A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.” (Prov. 25:18).

All of those things mentioned in the verse are instruments of death. False words of false witnesses are instruments of death.

The false witness is a deceiver.

“He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness; but a false witness deceit.” (Prov. 12:17).

Think about the lies, the false witness of Ken Lay of Enron infamy. The lies they told led a business down to destruction. Let us not be guilty of bearing false witness.

THE TRUTH OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN THE CHILD OF GOD.

The Spirit of God does not, will not lie. Neither will He in the person He possesses.

The child of God, who is possessed by the Spirit of God will speak the truth in love.

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:15).

The child of God will not practice deceit. (See verse 14 of Ephesians 4).

She/He will not “Bear false witness”.

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10).

In 2 Timothy 3:3 “False accusers” is used as one of the terms of people who have departed from the faith, or never had it. It is the Greek word “Diabolos” which is actually the word for devil.

*Lemma*δu953 αu946 οu955 οu962
Gloss*devil
Strongs*1228
Parse*A-NPM Adjective-Nominative Plural Masculine
S&P Search*1228A-NPM
Trnslt*diabolos
Pron* dee-ab’ol-os

Is that not interesting to know that the same word for “False accusers” is the same word for devil. That surely means that “False accusers” are of the devil and have no part with God.

IT IS FOR CERTAIN THAT FALSE WITNESSES DESTROY – IT IS ALSO FOR CERTAIN THAT TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

We have seen by the Word of God that false witnesses are one’s who will lead others to destruction, and is headed for destruction themselves. They will destroy those who they do not like, because they have a higher position, greater material assets, are more popular, are envious and greedy for more of the world. They destroy families, churches, communities, businesses, governments, whole societies. They, themselves are headed on a path of destruction.

There is a word from our Lord Jesus on this matter.

“If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32).

It is a great thing to be free from the power which holds us to be false witnesses, which causes us to grasp for, hunger, and devour the things of the world. They cause us to do harm to others, even by false words of testimony. Using a good Biblical word, WOE be to those who will continue to bear false witness against another. Look out if you do.

May Psalm 12 be the prayer of our hearts concerning this thing of bearing false witness against anyone.

The only way out of such a destructive life is to confess your sin; trust Jesus to cleanse your heart and tongue. Be filled with the Spirit and walk in that Spirit. If a brother or sister in Christ offends you take the matter to God, not to another brother. One thing that appears to happen when we take this to someone else: it seems to end up being a false witness against the other. We only share such thing with others to get them on “Our side”. Check yourself, then go to that other person who has offended you. That will stop the false witnessing. Make sure of your own heart.

-Tim A. Blankenship

That the World Will Know

“That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.” 1 Kings 8:60  (KJB)

King Solomon had just ended a prayer during the dedication of the temple. During this dedication he now speaks to the people, and informs them that through these things which he mentioned in prayer the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God…  What are those things by which they may know?  It has to do with the way God loves His people:

  1. He chastises or disciplines His people when they sin;
  2. He hears and answers their prayers when they pray;
  3. He forgives their sins and delivers them out of their troubles;
  4. He keeps them in His hand, and protects them in their enjoying their blessings;
  5. He always reminds them, lets them know that there is no other God; all the others are powerless and false.

Now the question could come to us who are Christians, “How can all the people of the earth know that the LORD is God through us?”  We know and love Jesus, yet, the above things are for you and me as well.

It does say in the book of Hebrews chapter 12…

“But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Hebrews 12:8

Just wanted to remind you that no Christian can sin without consequences. We still are disciplined for our sin.

Let us let the world know of God’s holiness, righteousness, love, mercy, and grace. The cross of Jesus is where all of these were put on display by holy God.  Let the world know.

Some Sermon Thoughts on Ezra 8:21-23

Being Dependent

Ezra 8:21 – 23

I.  THE PEOPLE HAD COMMITTED THEMSELVES.

  1.  They had boasted of God’s Providence and power.
  2.  They had sought His way in going through the lands of trouble – evil, bandits, and murderers.

II.  THEY WOULD NOT ASK HELP OR PROTECTION FROM MAN OR GOVERNMENT.

  1.  Due to their boasting in God.
  2.  The hand of God is on those who depend on Him.

III.  GOD GRANTS THEIR PETITIONS.

  1.  He provided their material needs.
  2.  He provided their protection.
  3.  He still does, for all those who will trust in Him.

Trust in GOD: Rejoice

“But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee. For Thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt Thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12 (KJV)

One of the most glorious things about the Bible, and it is the Word of God; is that right in the middle of it is a Song Book. One hundred and fifty of the most wonderful songs that have ever been written. Most of them probably written by David.

Psalm 5 shows David’s anger toward evil, and that God is angry toward evil. We can understand that their is none righteous except those whom God declares righteous. We cannot declare ourselves as righteous. That is an empty endeavor. A vain thing.

“Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice” Yes! All trust must be placed in Jehovah [YHWH]. He is a Jealous God; and is worthy of all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Jehovah is our Defender; our Righteousness; and our Shield. Let us shout for joy. Let us rejoice every morning when we awake. When we roll from our beds, and our feet hit the floor let our first thoughts be of Him; and not the dread of the day ahead.

Do you have God’s favor today? When you come to Him through His Son Jesus who is Righteousness in person; through the cross – His death, burial and resurrection – you have His favor.

Let all those who put their trust in God rejoice.

The Case Against God’s People

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Known for that because of his mourning for the sins of the people of Judah, and Jerusalem. He sees the failings of the priesthood, of which he was part. The weaknesses, the hypocrisies, and often blatant lies and deceptions; not only among the priests but among those who called themselves prophets of God.

God could speak with Jeremiah. Jeremiah heard, and many times responded to what God said. Hear what God says to Jeremiah near the beginning of his ministry;

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of His increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD.'”  Jeremiah 2:1-3 (KJV)

God begins in the first message by confirming them in their first belief. They had followed, at least through Abraham, had been obedient in the wilderness, and had grown in love with the LORD. There was kindness, fondness, love in their hearts for the LORD, realizing that He alone was responsible for their having a land, a promise. They had been chosen from the place of God’s amazing grace and mercy. They were undeserving. They were unworthy. They were sinners among the other sinners of the earth. There was nothing special about them, thus in there early days they loved the LORD.

Despite the fact of their departure the LORD reminds them of His promise, “All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD”. No one can expect God’s blessing who lifts their hand against the people, the nation, whom God ordained to give us the Scriptures, ordinances, and laws. Yet there is room for His judgment. Pray for Jerusalem – Israel.

As Christians we must remember our “First love”. That love we had for Jesus when we first believed. The things of the world around us have a power which can lure us away from loving Him. God commended five of the early churches of the Revelation, but would only condemn two of them because they had departed from Him.

If you truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, there was a time when you walked with Him, you loved Him, cherished Him, and it did not bother you that there were times He seemed distant, but you trusted His Word when He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Something has happened in the past few days, weeks, months, or years that have caused you to get away from Him, His Word, from praying, and cherishing His abiding presence. You have become more consumed with sports, entertainment, comforts, leisure, conveniences, and even family activities, than with your walk with Him. It is time to return to Him, before the judgment of your sin comes on you.

He puts His protecting hand on all who have trusted Him. You can believe He will keep you, protect you, and anyone who raises an evil hand against you will suffer by His hand. Be assured God loves you with an everlasting love. Enjoy it, revel in it, rejoice in it, and He will be glorified.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Making of The Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

If we as preachers neglect to preach Jesus; His death on the cross; His burial; His bodily resurrection; and His promise… “I will come again” then we fail to preach the Word of God.  That is the essence of all of Scripture.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

God Makes the Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

Just A Thought 04/16/09

Jesus, And The NRA

There is quite a bit of talk about firearms and whether we should regulate them, or even ban them.  I got to thinking about how would Jesus respond to the idea of firearms, and it came to mind that the weapon of Jesus’s day was the sword.

At one point in the ministry of Jesus He gave commandment for His disciples to get a sword;

” Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” Luke 22:36 (KJV)

We have Christian and non-Christian alike arguing against having handguns, or arguing for having them.  In the United States of America it is the right of every American; except for former prison inmates; to keep and bear arms.  The Second amendment of the USA states:

Second Amendment –

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

People die in the USA every day probably by some kind of gun shot accident, intentional murder, or manslaughter; and many who see these things think the answer is taking away our right to “keep and bear arms”. 

I was reading another blog the other day, by a brother in Christ who was proposing further gun restrictions due to murders, street battles and such.  He quoted the old adage, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people”.  Only he added his addendum on it by saying “Guns kill people”, or something like that.

Murders and hatred come from the heart.  Jesus told us that.  If you take away guns there will still be murders.  There were people murdered in Jesus’s day by the  sword, by stones and stoning.  Maybe we should ban kitchen knives, and stones.

The answer is changing the hearts of men.  Jesus said,

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:18-20 (KJV)

I still don’t know that Jesus would be an advocate of the NRA [National Rifle Association] the guard and protector of the Second Amendment of the USA; but I do know that He would advocate us presenting the Gospel of  His death, burial and resurrection; because there is the power to change hearts and lives.

Jesus also said,

“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Matthew 26:52 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

What Is Legalism???

Just What is Legalism???

There are charges of “Legalism” being shouted, proclaimed, printed in meetings, in comments, and by email and other means. It seems to me, at least in some cases, that these charges are brought by those who are defending their own actions and/or the actions of others. The charge often cried against those who propose Biblical support for abstaining from alcoholic beverage, or gambling, and other things is, “That is legalism”. The charge says, if you espouse abstinence, then you are binding.

Is this charge accurate? There is a verse of Scripture in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus tells us, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” Mark 2:27 (NKJV). Jesus Himself had been accused of breaking the law of the Sabbath. He and His disciples had walked through grain fields and as they walked they plucked hands full of grain, rubbing it in their hands, thus, threshing it, then eating it; and being charged with laboring on the Sabbath day, breaking the law.

These accusers had taken the “Commandment of God” and added their “commandments of men”, making it a law that binds rather than protecting. They would charge Jesus many more times as well with breaking the Sabbath, because He healed on the Sabbath day. The Law was given for protection and good, not for keeping us from doing the good and right.

If we were looking at the Ten Commandments we could see that each of them are for the purpose of pointing us toward loving God and loving one another. Not one is binding. They protect and give respect to God and others, thus back to ourselves.

The first four are for the protection of the worth of God to be worshipped, and in keeping them, keep us from eternal death. The final six are for the protection of respect for one another, our relationships, our word, and our property. (Let me make it quite clear right here, We have not, nor cannot keep these laws in our flesh. Jesus died and fulfilled these laws, thus we obey them through Him.) These laws were meant to keep us from wronging God, and wronging our fellowman. When we are not at peace with God, we will not be at peace with our fellow man. When we are not at peace with our fellow man, we are probably not at peace with God. We must first have peace with God and the peace of God.

For the accusers of Jesus to accuse Him and His disciples was an act of self-righteousness, and could be called “Legalism”. If legalism is adding to the law of God, then, this was a case of legalism. There is, however, one thing for sure, and that is; adding to the Word of God is a death sentence (See Revelation 22:18-19).

Jesus’s words to His accusers puts a new focus on the whole law. His principles for living in His kingdom (Matthew 5-7) are much more eye opening than are the Ten Commandments. Will you accuse Jesus of “Legalism” because He says, “…whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 NKJV)? I would dare to think not. I do not think that anyone would be foolish enough to even accuse Him of adding to the Word. That would be a foolish accusation anyway, because the Word was not yet complete, and He is the Word.

One of the arguments in charging legalism is, “If it is not named in Scripture, then we cannot call it sin; when we call it sin, that is legalism”. I think most who read this will agree that there are actions committed not named in Scripture which are clearly sinful. For example, the matter of pornography. Is that not a sinful behavior? Is it not sinful whether you produce it, practice it or view it? You answer. I have not seen this behavior mentioned anywhere in the Bible, yet I have no problem calling it immoral, sinful, behavior. The Bible does tell us, “Abstain from every form of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. That includes a multitude of sins which are not named in Scripture – “Every form of evil”.

Just what is legalism? Legalism is the taking of grace and adding works to it for the basis of our salvation and/or the keeping of our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Grace and faith are the gift of God, not of works, lest we should be boastful, and steal the glory of God for ourselves.

When a group makes requirement for salvation to be grace, faith, and sacraments – that is legalism. When denomination requires grace, faith, and baptism for salvation – that is legalism. When someone requires grace, faith and abstaining from certain practices; such as gambling, drinking alcoholic beverage, or pornography, etc. for salvation – that is legalism. It is the adding to of grace in salvation that determines legalism.

To present these things of abstinence for sanctification, and holiness in Christian living has only to do with one’s growth in Christ Jesus, and protection from harm; not condemnation.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Case Against God’s People

God Builds His Case

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Known for that because of his mourning for the sins of the people of Judah, and Jerusalem. He sees the failings of the priesthood, of which he was part. The weaknesses, the hypocrisies, and often blatant lies and deceptions; not only among the priests but among those who called themselves prophets of God.

God could speak with Jeremiah. Jeremiah heard, and many times responded to what God said. Hear what God says to Jeremiah near the beginning of his ministry;

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying’, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 2:1-3 (NKJV).

God begins in the first message by confirming them in their first belief. They had followed, at least through Abraham, had been obedient in the wilderness, and had grown in love with the LORD. There was kindness, fondness, love in their hearts for the LORD, realizing that He alone was responsible for their having a land, a promise. They had been chosen from the place of God’s amazing grace and mercy. They were undeserving. They were unworthy. They were sinners among the other sinners of the earth. There was nothing special about them, thus in there early days they loved the LORD.

Despite the fact of their departure the LORD reminds them of His promise, “All that devour him will offend; disaster will come upon them,’ says the LORD”. No one can expect God’s blessing who lifts their hand against the people, the nation, whom God ordained to give us the Scriptures, ordinances, and laws. Yet there is room for His judgment. Pray for Jerusalem – Israel.

As Christians we must remember our “First love”. That love we had for Jesus when we first believed. The things of the world around us have a power which can lure us away from loving Him. God commended five of the early churches of the Revelation, but would only condemn two of them because they had departed from Him.

If you truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then, there was a time when you walked with Him, you loved Him, cherished Him, and it did not bother you that there were times He seemed distant, but you trusted His Word when He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Something has happened in the past few days, weeks, months, or years that have caused you to get away from Him, His Word, from praying, and cherishing His abiding presence. You have become more consumed with sports, entertainment, comforts, leisure, conveniences, and even family activities, than with your walk with Him. It is time to return to Him, before the judgment of your sin comes on you.

He puts His protecting hand on all who have trusted Him. You can believe He will keep you, protect you, and anyone who raises an evil hand against you will suffer by His hand. Be assured God loves you with an everlasting love. Enjoy it, revel in it, rejoice in it, and He will be glorified.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Making of The Preacher

God Makes a Preacher

The call of the prophet was one of separation. It was one for Jeremiah that would separate him from his family, due to the message he would be proclaiming, it would even keep him from marriage. There were times he would even feel that God had forsaken Him. We will see these things as we progress through this wonderful prophecy which our LORD God has given us.

The passage of the prophet for today is chapter one, verses 17-19;

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:17-19 (KJV).

The idea of “girding up the loins” is the idea of getting one’s self ready for the task at hand. You might say of a preacher called by God, “Get yourself ready to do My bidding”. As Paul spoke to Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). Jeremiah was called to preach the Word of the Lord and he must be prepared. He must know that calling is sure, because there were going to come times in his ministry where that would be all that he had.

“Arise”, get up and get going, the time is short. “Speak to them all that I command thee”. There can be no changing of the message to soften the impact. It must be spoken as God has given it. It is sad to say and to think, but there are many preachers, who are pastors of churches and preach (if you can call it that) messages that are watered down versions of the truth, thus not the truth, but lies. They would rather be popular with their people. Popular with the people unpopular with God. Which would we be? God says to the prophet, “Be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them”.

The prophet is called to stand, to be strong. God tells Jeremiah, “I have made you this day a defenced city, an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests , and against the people of the land.” This is God’s promise to Jeremiah of God’s protection from harm. Even when the judgment comes on the land, even though the people, the kings, the princes, and the priests turn against him Jeremiah is promised protection. His life will be kept and preserved. Someone has said, “The man of God in the will of God is immortal, until God is through with him”. That is a profound statement. Of course the one who made that statement must have been speaking of this temporal life we live here on earth, because with Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are immortal anyway.

The promise of God for protection would be a mighty force in the faithfulness of Jeremiah. The promise is a mighty power in our lives as well. To think that his own family, friends, king, princes, and others would try to harm him, even try to kill him, and he having the promise of God’s protection and keeping. “They shall fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” Would you rather have the friendship of the world, or the protection and power of God on your life? Think about it. You cannot have both, if you are going to be a preacher of God’s Word.

-by Tim A. Blankenship